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Not Sundancing? Try an alternative

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PARK CITY — Let's say you're in an independent mood and feeling like seeing a non-kangaroo movie but you haven't been able to acquire a coveted ticket to the Sundance Film Festival, you're on the Most Wanted List for late fees at Blockbuster and you've already seen "Lord of the Rings" a dozen times.

You're in luck. This week is independent film season in Utah. So many options are available even the alternatives have alternatives.

Be forewarned. Most of these indies, which purposely coincide with Sundance, are as eccentric as their abnormal titles suggest.

The list includes — and we didn't make up these names — Slamdance, Schmooze Dance, Nodance, TromaDance, Shedance, X Dance, Hypnotic Chrysler Million Dollar Film Fest, the Lost Film Festival, the Backseat Film Festival, the Slamdunk Film Festival, the 2003 FNG Film Fest and the Bunnyhop Dance Film Jest. (OK, that last one is made up.)

Slamdance is the best known Sundance spinoff. In its ninth season, this festival has become renowned for premiering independent films by first-time filmmakers working on limited budgets.

Slamdance president Peter Baxter said the festival aims "to reach out to newcomers and to exhibit fresh, raw and largely unknown talent at its best, in the spirit of filmmaking without apologies."

Slamdance received a record 2,800 submissions, of which only 16 feature films will be screened this week. The festival, which runs through Saturday, has returned to Main Street at the Treasure Mountain Inn and also has showings at Brewvies in Salt Lake City. The schedule is available online at www.slamdance.com.

Slamdunk featured (a term used loosely in this context) Pauly Shore's directorial debut, "You'll Never Wiez in This Town Again." Shore also wrote and starred in the dark comedy, which has dozens of cameos from celebrities the likes of Snoop Dogg, Jerry Springer and Carrot Top. It's about Shore faking his own death for publicity's sake (apparently being in classics like "Jury Duty" and "In the Army Now" didn't do it for him) and then getting caught.

Schmooze Dance (a name that aptly describes much of what happens at Sundance) was a one-day showing of Jewish films.

Nodance, an edgy DVD-projected festival, is taking place at the Main Street Mall through Friday.

The Lost Film Festival bills itself as "a traveling showcase of truly independent (read: anti-corporate) film."

As for the Backseat Film Festival, well, it is no longer happy to take that to Sundance. It runs again on Friday at Phat Tire Saloon (438 Main) in Park City. That's also the site for TromaDance on Thursday and FNG — primarily for Utah filmmakers — on Friday night.

Shedance, a festival for women-related films, ends Thursday at Cisero's (306 Main).

And if that doesn't do it for you, Uncle Bob still has that open invitation to come over and watch his vacation videos.


E-MAIL: jody@desnews.com